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My computer, it crashes.
May 10, 2005 9:37 AM   Subscribe

I know this is hard to believe, but Windows has crashed on my computer. Can I fix this somehow, or do I need to reformat? Again?

I was away for the weekend and got the phone call that every parent dreads. No, not that phone call...the "Hey Mom, the computer turned off by itself while I was typing and now there's a weird message on the screen" phone call.

So, now when I turn on the computer, I get a black screen with the following message on it:

Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:
\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM

You can attempt to repair this file by starting Windows Setup using the original CD-ROM. Select 'r' at the first screen to start repair.


The problem is, I don't have an original CD. Windows XP came already loaded on my computer. I do have a Restore CD...three of them. Not the same thing, right? I tried booting with the first Restore CD, and got this message:

MICROSOFT WINDOWS STARTUP MENU

1. Restore Windows XP
2. Boot to Command Prompt from CD-ROM


If I type "1", there's no repair option, only a reformat. If I type two, I get an A> prompt. I've Googled and have found a bazillion forums where others have had the same problem and have been given advice on how to fix this, but the Original CD-ROM is always mentioned, and I don't gots. Help? Do I really have to go find this CD to save everything on my hard drive? I really don't want to have to reformat. Again.
posted by iconomy to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
 
Is borrowing a Windows XP CD from a friend/neighbor/enemy an option? This is definitely the route we try to take (and why its so heavily favorite on Teh Interweb).

If you can find a local 'computer repair' guy in your area who's reasonably reputable, he will definitely have a copy of a Windows XP CD that he can use to fix/repair the file.

Let us know if these ideas won't work for you and we can explore your other options.
posted by onalark at 10:03 AM on May 10, 2005


Go buy an additional hard drive

Slave the original one, install fresh copy of XP Pro on new one.

Boot to new drive/OS, copy over files from old drive

Its that easy.

Can't do it yourself? -
email me

posted by stevejensen at 10:05 AM on May 10, 2005


The two previous posters speak the truth. As a last resort, if you can't find an XP CD, you can use the Ultimate Boot CD to see what's left on your hard drive (probably a lot).

And as soon as you do this, start making backups.
posted by grouse at 10:30 AM on May 10, 2005


Call the company that sold you the pc. The repair option may exist on the cd. They should provide advice even if the warranty period has ended.

It may be possible to boot to a Knoppix cd and restore the file from the vendor's cd. You'd need access to a pc with a cd burner to create the Knoppix cd. Knoppix is a version of Linux, and is very useful. It's easier to use if you've used Linux/Unix at all.
posted by theora55 at 10:45 AM on May 10, 2005


If youre in the command prompt, you can run System Restore, the program is c:\windows\system32\restore\rstrui.exe .

Try running that, and going back a few days.

\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM is part of your registry. If system restore doesnt work, there's a few backups of your registry that you can use to overwrite the corrupt one. Go to c:\windows\system32\config, backup the file called SYSTEM (this is the corrupt registry), and copy SYSTEM.BAK over it.

If this doesnt work, there's an old version usually in c:\windows\repair. Which you should be able to boot from, although if you have changed any hardware, you might need to reinstall drivers or fix it.
posted by Boobus Tuber at 12:10 PM on May 10, 2005


what are the other two cds? If it's a manufacturer "restore" set, it may only give the option to bounce the whole sucker, but if one of them actually has the XP program/install files on it, you should get a regular windows setup, which at some point will tell you that the current windows install is damaged and offer to repair it.

also: what manufacturer?
posted by fishfucker at 12:37 PM on May 10, 2005


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